The Music Guy

by John James

The Music Guy John James can be reached via cyberspace at Jimi Hendrix CD/DVD, and some Christmas music fun

If you’re just starting to build one, or looking to add to a stagnant stack of yuletide tunes, this year’s offerings in the Christmas Music Department have something wonderful for any holiday hipster. Following six volumes in his Coolest Songs in the World CD series, Little Steven Van Zandt and his Wicked Cool Records imprint collect 20 of his favorites in Underground Garage Presents: Christmas A Go Go. Featuring the Ramones, Electric Prunes, Darlene Love and Rufus Thomas, highlights include Bob Seger’s rare “Sock It To Me Santa,” Soupy Sales’ “Santa Claus

Is Surfin’ To Town,” and yes, funny-like-clown Joe Pesci’s “If It Doesn’t Snow On Christmas.” Billy Bob Thornton and his dapper Boxmasters offer up their Christmas Cheer on Vanguard Records. Finishing out with a mix of happy classics and a cover of John Lennon’s “Happy X-Mas (War Is Over),” the darker side of the season opens the disc with three originals that tell of spousal abuse, hope denied, family frustration and jail’s cold, steel bars. Thanks Billy Bob, perhaps my Christmas won’t be so bad after all…. Another broken-hearted Christmas ballad comes from Relient K in “I Hate Christmas Parties” from their sweet, easy-going Christmas collection in Let It Snow Baby…

Let It Reindeer. Featuring a blitzkrieg versions of “Angels We Have Heard on High” and “I’m Getting Nuttin’ For Christmas,” the holiday is rocking ’cause “Santa Claus is Thumbing to Town.” The sunniest present in the bag is a CD meant for the kids, but sure to made adults smile. The Wee Hairy Beasties boast a mighty indie-rock pedigree, bringing together the Mekons’ Jon Langford and Sally Timms with Kelly Hogan and Devil In a Woodpile into a Americana roots combo that hasn’t forgotten monsters in the shadows, tummy trouble and the “Belly Button Blues.” Peppered with friendly PSA’s about yellow snow, cleaning up after yourself and eating your greens, the new Holidays Gone Crazy CD features the title track and “Dinosaur Christmas.” Most likely to be heard at David Lynch, Tom Green or Crispin Glover’s Christmas party this season? It might be Julian Koster’s The Singing Saw at Christmastime. The Merge Records release features 12 eternal classics from “Silver Bells” to “”O’ Holy Night” put under the knife, er, the saw, as in the musical saw, flexed and drawn by a bow to produce an eerie, humble melody. Given that the man in honor of the celebration was a carpenter himself, the lovely, soulful pine of this strange instrument might be the most perfect new music of all…. Amnesty International is the beneficiary of new themed compilation, asking My Brightest Diamond, Blitzen Trapper and Parenthetical Girls to take childhood memories of Christmas as a launching point for their inclusion on I’ll Stay ‘Til After Christmas. Project compiler Daniel Gill found good company for the affair, with Au Revoir Simone re-envisioning Vince Guaraldi’s classic “Christmastime is Here,” Kevin Robinson solo project, Man of Arms, and Jimmy Tamborello and Figurine’s misty heartbreaker, “The Holidays Behind Us.” Cyndi Lauper has teamed up with the Hives for “A Christmas Duel,” one of a handful of tunes that can only be found online this year. Also worth searching for is Christmas set that just rounded out the Raveonetes’ four-part digital-only series of EPs. Their hypnotizing “Christmas Song” is a cool stroll into the land of twang guitar and breathy dames…. Analog, needle-dropping enthusiasts get a special treat this season with “Santa’s Coming Over” by Low. The limited edition Sub Pop seven-inch single is perhaps the weirdest — and most thrilling — of any original this year, backed by the joyful Max Romeo classic “The Coming of Jah.”